Tag Archives: current-events

Our Daily Bread — Maintain Unity

Our Daily Bread

Ephesians 4:1-6

Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. —Ephesians 4:3

A man stranded by himself on an island was finally discovered. His rescuers asked him about the three huts they saw there. He pointed and said, “This one is my home and that one is my church.” He then pointed to the third hut: “That was my former church.” Though we may laugh at the silliness of this story, it does highlight a concern about unity among believers.

The church of Ephesus during the time of the apostle Paul was comprised of both rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, masters and slaves. And where differences exist, so does friction. One concern Paul wrote about was the issue of unity. But observe what Paul said about this issue in Ephesians 4:3. He didn’t tell them to be “eager to produce or to organize unity.” He told them to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Unity already exists because believers share one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all (vv.4-6).

How do we “keep the unity”? By expressing our different opinions and convictions with lowliness, gentleness, and patience (v.2). The Spirit will give us the power to react in love toward those with whom we disagree. —Albert Lee

Lord, may our walk and our service be a

picture of the unity of Father, Son, and Spirit

in heaven above. Fill us with the fruit of the Spirit

that we might love others as You desire.

Unity among believers comes from our union with Christ.

Bible in a year: Leviticus 6-7; Matthew 25:1-30

 

Charles Spurgeon – Lions lacking–but the children satisfied

CharlesSpurgeon

“The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Psalm 34:10

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 7:7-11

We take it concerning things spiritual. Are we wanting a sense of pardon? We shall not want it long. Are we desiring stronger faith? We shall not want it long. Do you wish to have more love to your Saviour, to understand more concerning inward communion with Jesus? You shall have it. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Do you desire to renounce your sins, to be able to overcome this corruption or that, to attain this virtue, or that excellency? “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Is it adoption, justification, sanctification that you want? “You shall not lack any good thing.” But are your wants temporal? Do you want bread and water? No, I know you do not, for it is said, “Bread shall be given, and water shall be sure.” Or, if you do want it somewhat, it shall come before long; it shall not be to starvation. David said, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Do you want clothes? You shall have them. “He that clothes the lilies of the valley, will he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Do you need temporary supplies? You shall receive them, for “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” Whatever your desire, there is the promise, only go and plead it at the throne, and God will fulfil it. We have no right to look for the fulfilment of the promises unless we put the Promiser in mind of them, although truly, at times, he exceeds our desires or wishes.

For meditation: A true seeking of God will mould our desires to the things which we need and which please him—as such he cannot but answer when we call (Psalm 37:3-5).

Sermon no. 65

9 February (Preached 10 February 1856)

 

 

John MacArthur – The Joy of God’s Peace

John MacArthur

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:2).

Paul’s wonderful benediction for grace and peace was ever on his heart. He offered it in each of his epistles and expounded on it throughout his writings.

Grace is the outpouring of God’s goodness and mercy on undeserving mankind. Every benefit and provision you receive is by God’s grace. That’s why Peter called it “the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 1:10). Just as your trials are manifold or multifaceted, so God’s multifaceted and all-sufficient grace is correspondingly available to sustain you.

Peace, as used in Philippians 1:2, speaks of the calmness and absence of strife characteristic of one in whom God’s grace is at work. The New Testament also links it to mercy, hope, joy, and love. To experience those graces is to experience true peace.

It is said that when Bible translators were seeking a word or phrase for “peace” in the language of the Chol Indians of South Mexico, they discovered that the words for “a quiet heart” gave just the meaning they were looking for. That’s an appropriate parallel because peace guards the soul against anxiety and strife, granting solace and harmony.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Although “grace to you and peace” was a common greeting in the early church, it was an uncommon experience in the unbelieving world. The same is true today because only those who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ receive grace and peace.

 

Are you experiencing God’s peace? Remember, nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s all- sufficient grace and surpassing peace.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Read Ephesians 2:14-18 and praise God for Christ, who is your peace, and for His gracious work on your behalf.

For Further Study:

What is the first step to acquiring peace (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:14)?

What does the God of peace desire to accomplish within you (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20-21)?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – The Real Thing

Joyce meyer

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltiness be restored? . . . You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. —Matthew 5:13-14

When people learn you’re a Christian, they want to know if you are “for real.” Many people have tried “religion” and had a bad experience. God uses us to reach the world. If you are to be effective salt, you must allow Jesus to shine through your life.

You probably know someone who just lights up a room. In the same way, Christians who let the light of Jesus shine can change the whole atmosphere around them. Unbelievers ought to feel as though the power has suddenly come on—even if they don’t understand why. When you arrive at your job in the morning, be salt and light so those around you know that your relationship with Jesus is the real thing.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – The Heavens Declare God’s Glory

dr_bright

“The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of His craftmanship” (Psalm 19:1).

When King David was a small lad, his father assigned him the care of the sheep. Day after day, night after night he cared for his sheep as a loving shepherd. No doubt on numerous occasions he would lie on his back and look up at the sun and the vastness of space, during the daytime. At night, the stars and the moon would seem so close that he could almost reach them, as he would talk to the God of his fathers.

The vast expanse of creation captivated him, and instinctively he knew that God, who created it all, was his God and he could trust Him with his life, so that just before he went against the giant Goliath he could say to King Saul, “When I am taking care of my father’s sheep and a lion or a bear comes and grabs a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club…I’ve done it to this heathen Philistine too, for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who saved me from the claws and teeth of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:34-37). When David went out against Goliath, he said to the giant, “You come to me with a sword and a spear, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of the armies of heaven and of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). Then with a sling and a stone, he killed the Philistine.

I personally believe David triumphed because his confidence in God came not only from the teachings of the holy Scriptures, but also from the experience that he had had with God, who created all the heavens and the earth.

Bible Reading: Psalm 19:2-6

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will make a special point to study the vastness of God’s creation through books about science and to take time – not only in Scriptures, but also in books of science — to notice the handiwork of God’s beautiful creation, conscious that it will help me to become more sensitive and alert to the needs of others.

 

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Contain Your Crowing

ppt_seal01

November 2, 1948 was a disastrous day for the media. Most of the newspapers had predicted Thomas Dewey would defeat Harry Truman decisively in the presidential election. The Chicago Tribune even went to press with the banner headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

I Corinthians 13:6

Later, in a good-natured mea culpa, the Washington Press Corp invited Truman to a “Crow Banquet,” in which all of the media representatives would be served crow en gl⣥ while Truman received turkey. In response, the President wrote back that he had “no desire to crow over anybody or see anybody eat crow figuratively or otherwise. We should all get together now and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases.”

To be a loving Christian as Scripture requires, you must not rejoice in the wrongs of others – even when their wrongdoing is a personal affront to you. Love, Corinthians says, “bears all things.” Today, instead of crowing over your successes, acknowledge that they are really God’s…not yours. And as for those who were wrong and wronged you, recognize your priceless opportunity to reflect the grace and forgiveness of the Savior. America and her leaders need this type of example more than ever before!

Recommended Reading: Romans 12:14-21

Charles Stanley – Surviving Our Present Culture

Charles Stanley

Hebrews 5:12-14

If we desire to survive our present culture, then the inspired, infallible Word of God must have a central place in our daily life. Through the Bible, God speaks to us about His truths and the world’s lies.

To know if we have fallen victim to falsehood, we need to take an honest look at whether we are committed Christ-followers or worldly believers. Worldly Christians may have strong convictions about following the Lord but often find themselves compromising those principles. A weak understanding of God’s character and instructions will result in self-focused lives and susceptibility to the culture’s influences (Eph. 4:14). Worldliness is revealed in long-term inconsistency with regard to the Christian walk and in a focus on things that give pleasure or comfort. Minimal involvement in the local church also prevents growth in spiritual maturity.

Do you recognize yourself in any part of this description? If so, be encouraged. Scripture stands as a beacon to guide us safely through cultural perils so we can become committed Christ-followers. The Bible and the Holy Spirit’s work will increasingly cause our lives to reflect God’s standard. Applying Scripture to our attitudes and actions will result in a growing passion for the Lord and greater obedience to Him. Then, as trust and dependence on Jesus Christ continue to increase, our whole life will take on a new perspective because we have aligned ourselves with His Word. What place does Scripture have in your decision making?

 

Our Daily Bread — Unintentional

Our Daily Bread

Leviticus 4:1-3; Romans 3:21-26

If a person sins unintentionally . . . let him offer to the LORD . . . a young bull without blemish. —Leviticus 4:2-3

When I was returning our grandson Alex to his family after a visit, the traffic seemed especially challenging. Fast-maneuvering cars blocked me from the correct toll lane, forcing me to go through a lane where only cars with a prepaid pass are permitted, which I didn’t have. Alex told me that my license plate would be photographed and a ticket might be mailed to me. I was frustrated because a penalty would have to be paid even though my infraction was unintentional.

For the ancient Jews, a violation of God’s laws committed even in ignorance was taken very seriously. The Old Testament recognized and provided for unintentional sins through appropriate sacrifices: “If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments . . . let him offer to the LORD . . . a young bull without blemish as a sin offering” (Lev. 4:2-3).

Old Testament sacrifices were more than a reminder that accidental wrongs have consequences. They were given in anticipation that God in His grace would provide atonement even for wrongs we didn’t realize we were doing. He did this through the death of Jesus in our place. God’s grace is far greater than we could ever imagine! —Dennis Fisher

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin. —Johnston

Grace is getting what we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve.

Bible in a year: Leviticus 4-5; Matthew 24:29-51

 

Alistair Begg – Is Sin Subdued in You?

 Alistair Begg

Daily Devotional for February 8, 2014

Matthew 1:21

Many people, if they are asked what they understand by salvation, will reply, “Being saved from hell and taken to heaven.” This is one result of salvation, but it is not one tenth of what is contained in that blessing. It is true our Lord Jesus Christ does redeem all His people from the wrath to come; He saves them from the fearful condemnation that their sins had brought upon them; but His triumph is far more complete than this. He saves His people “from their sins”–a complete deliverance from our worst foes.

Where Christ works a saving work, He casts Satan from his throne and will not let him be master any longer. No man is a true Christian if sin reigns in his mortal body. Sin will be in us–it will never be utterly expelled till the spirit enters glory; but it will never have dominion.

There will be a striving for dominion–a lusting against the new law and the new spirit that God has implanted–but sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature. Christ will be Master of the heart, and sin must be mortified. The Lion of the tribe of Judah shall prevail, and the dragon shall be cast out.

Professing Christian, is sin subdued in you? If your life is unholy, your heart is unchanged; and if your heart is unchanged, you are an unsaved person. If the Savior has not sanctified you, renewed you, given you a hatred of sin and a love of holiness, He has done nothing in you of a saving character. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people not in their sins but from them “. . . for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”2 “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”3 If not saved from sin, how shall we hope to be counted among His people? Lord, save me now from all evil, and enable me to honor my Savior.

2 Hebrews 12:14

3 2 Timothy 2:19

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

The family reading plan for February 8, 2014 Job 7 | Romans 11

 

 

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – Secret sins

CharlesSpurgeon

“Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Kings 5:15-27

You do not think there is any evil in a thing unless somebody sees it, do you? You feel that it is a very great sin if your master finds you out in robbing the till—but there is no sin if he should not discover it—none at all. And you, sir, you fancy it to be very great sin to play a trick in trade, in case you should be discovered and brought before the court; but to play a trick and never be discovered, that is all fair—do not say a word about it. “Mr Spurgeon, it is all business; you must not touch business; tricks that are not discovered, of course you are not to find fault with them.” The common measure of sin is the notoriety of it. But I do not believe in that. A sin is a sin, whether done in private or before the wide world. It is singular how men will measure guilt. A railway servant puts up a wrong signal, there is an accident; the man is tried, and severely reprimanded. The day before he put up the wrong signal, but there was no accident, and therefore no one accused him for his neglect. But it was just the same, accident or no accident, the accident did not make the guilt, it was the deed which made the guilt, not the notoriety nor yet the consequence of it. It was his business to have taken care—and he was as guilty the first time as he was the second, for he negligently exposed the lives of men. Do not measure sin by what other people say of it; but measure sin by what God says of it, and what your own conscience says of it. Now, I hold that secret sin, if anything, is the worst of sin; because secret sin implies that the man who commits it has atheism in his heart.

For meditation: “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)—one day God is going to reveal the secrets of men (Romans 2:16). There is a world of difference between being truly sorry for our sin itself and just feeling sorry for ourselves when we get found out (Hebrews 12:17).

Sermon no. 116

8 February (1857)

John MacArthur – The Joy of Spiritual Unity

John MacArthur

“To the saints . . . including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).

Paul’s salutation includes the “overseers and deacons” at Philippi. That probably is not a reference to elders and deacons as we know them, but a general reference to all the Philippian saints, which included spiritual leaders (overseers) and those who followed (servants).

That implies unity and submission within the church, which brings joy to leaders and followers alike. Hebrews 13:17 emphasizes that point: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Spiritual leadership is a sacred responsibility. Leaders are to lead, feed, and guard the flock of God, which Christ purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). They are accountable to God Himself for the faithful discharge of their duties.

You have a sacred responsibility as well: to obey and submit to your leaders. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Paul adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and . . . esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

Sadly, our society encourages criticism and mistrust of anyone in authority. Verbal assaults and character assassinations are common. Many within the church have adopted that attitude toward their spiritual leaders, whom they view as functionaries or paid professionals. Consequently many churches today are weak and ineffective from disunity and strife. Many pastors suffer untold grief from disobedient and ungrateful people.

You must never succumb to that mentality. Your leaders deserve your appreciation and esteem not because they are exceptionally talented or have winsome personalities, but because of the sacred work God called them to do.

Your godly attitude toward spiritual leaders will contribute immeasurably to unity and harmony within your church and will allow your leaders to minister with joy, not grief.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for your spiritual leaders. Pray for them and encourage them often.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 9:3-14.

What right was Paul discussing?

What illustrations did he use?

Joyce Meyer – Offer Yourself Freely

Joyce meyer

We are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which exhales] unto God. —2 Corinthians 2:15

The Bible says that every morning God’s people brought freewill offerings to Him. They all had various sacrifices such as animals, grains, and cereals (See Exodus 35). God wants us to offer our lives in dedicated service to him.

The Bible says that God is pleased with our sacrifice of praise (See Hebrews 13:15), and that our prayers go up before God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice. He wants us to bring ourselves to Him every morning and say, “God, here I am; I want to be a living sacrifice.”

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Hears Our Cries

dr_bright

“Lord, You know the hopes of humble people. Surely, You will hear their cries and comfort their hearts by helping them” (Psalm 10:17).

Some time ago Nancy DeMoss, who with her beloved husband, Art (one of my dearest friends), had launched a fruitful ministry to executives, called to share an exciting experience. It had been raining all day, and a downpour was predicted for that evening. More than 1300 guests were coming to their home for a lawn dinner to hear the gospel presented by the well-known Christian leader, Charles Colson.

They prayed that the rain would stop, and – miracle of miracles – except for only a few drops of moisture, the rain was held back, though around them, they later learned, there had been a downpour. The gospel had been presented and hundreds had responded to the invitation to receive Christ, and as the guests were on their way home, the rain came – but the harvest was over. The God of nature had heard their prayers and responded.

On another occasion, during EXPLO ’74 in Seoul, Korea, as over a million people came each of five evenings to the famous Yoida Plaza, we prayed God would hold back the rain – but He chose to bless us in other ways, and the rain came. As it fell, God overruled and the people were drawn closer to each other and to the Lord.

Literally hundreds of thousands claimed to have received Christ during the week. In fact, more than a million – according to the officials – indicated that they had received Christ in just one evening. As a result, we gladly praised and thanked God for the rain.

God always knows what is best. He knows the hopes of humble people, and He will hear our cries and comfort our hearts. Sometimes He withholds the rain; other times He sends the rain and with it the outpouring of His blessings.

Bible Reading: Psalm 10:12-16

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Knowing that God is worthy of my trust, that He controls not only the affairs of men and nations but also the laws of nature, I will submit my requests to Him today and be willing to abide by His decisions, knowing also that He makes no mistakes. I shall rejoice and give thanks to Him no matter what happens.

Presidential Prayer Team; P.G. – A Danger to Society

ppt_seal01

You hear it or read it: the popular call for tolerance. In the ever-secularized America, it no longer means you can “agree to disagree and still respect others.” No, the message now has become, “Christian! You and your kind are dangerous. Keep your God and your beliefs away from us.”

Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

Psalm 26:3

What do you do with these accusations? David knew how to respond. He began by praying for God to stand up for him. He also knew he had to face the challenge of aligning his heart with the character and purpose of God. He came away from his time with the Lord praising and finding God’s firm ground.

When faced with hostility from others, the first step is to pray, and then to find God’s reassurance that you are on His path, walking in faithfulness. As you kneel before Him today, remember, too, the members of the legislature that are a part of the Congressional Prayer Caucus; and those who are striving not to let secular culture press them into its mold. They need your upholding intercession. Then pray for those leaders who do not yet know the Lord, that they may discover His compassion and truth.

Recommended Reading: Psalm 26

Greg Laurie – God’s Free Gift

greglaurie

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 6:23

Many years ago, I was given some free tickets to Disneyland. I was walking around the park having a good time, but I started to feel guilty because I had two extra tickets. I thought maybe there was someone outside who wanted to come in but perhaps couldn’t afford it. So I decided to go outside and find someone to give the tickets to. I noticed some kids hanging out in front of the park. I walked up and said, “Hi. I have two free tickets to Disneyland. Would you like them?”

“What are you doing, man?”

“Just two free tickets,” I said.

“How much is it going to cost us?”

“It won’t cost you anything. I have some extra. I would just like you to have them.”

“No.”

I went to someone else. “Hi. I have these two free tickets to Disneyland. I would like to give them to you.” Again and again, I received the same response. It took forty minutes to give away those tickets.

People are suspicious, and the same is true when it comes to spiritual things. We say, “The way to be forgiven of your sin and to have eternal life is to turn from your sin, receive Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior, and begin to follow Him.”

People respond, “That’s too easy. What’s the catch? What else do I have to do?” In our pride, we want to think we have something to do with our salvation. But if we will come to God on His terms and do what He says, then we will be forgiven of our sins and have the assurance of eternal life.

 

Charles Stanley – Our Time

Charles Stanley

Ephesians 5:15-17

The way you use your time reveals your values, priorities, and beliefs about what is true and worthwhile. As a good steward of this fleeting gift, you can make the most of your time by . . .

• Receiving Christ as your personal Savior. Any portion of life spent outside of God’s will is wasted time. The only way you will ever reach your true potential and experience genuine peace and prosperity is by personally knowing the One who created you.

• Praying. The greatest timesaver is prayer. As you seek God’s mind con-cerning your schedule or decisions, prayer acts like a compass in your life. With respect to time and energy, no one has ever been more efficient than Jesus Christ. He consistently recognized that the most valuable way He could use His time was to find a solitary place and commune with the Father.

• Discovering God’s plan for your life and walking daily in His will. A believer who knowingly disobeys the Lord will be miserable and ineffective. There is no way to maximize your effectiveness if you are struggling against God or have become so hardened to His voice that you no longer hear Him.

• Writing a mission statement for your life. As the Creator, God knows the plans He has for you. So ask about His desires, and then take the time to summarize how you intend to use the remainder of your earthly days. If you stick to the plan God has helped you set, you will find that your time will be invested rather than simply “spent.”

 

 

 

Our Daily Bread — Who’s That Hero?

Our Daily Bread

Judges 3:7-11

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

Reading the book of Judges, with its battles and mighty warriors, can sometimes feel like reading about comic book superheroes. We have Deborah, Barak, Gideon, and Samson. However, in the line of judges (or deliverers), we also find Othniel.

The account of his life is brief and straightforward (Judges 3:7-11). No drama. No display of prowess. But what we do see is what God did through Othniel: “The raised up a deliverer” (v.9), “the Spirit of the came upon him” (v.10), and “the delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand” (v.10).

The Othniel account helps us focus on what is most important—the activity of God. Interesting stories and fascinating people can obscure that. We end up concentrating on those and fail to see what the Lord is doing.

When I was young, I wished I could be more talented so that I could point more people to Christ. But I was looking at the wrong thing. God often uses ordinary people for His extraordinary work. It is His light shining through our lives that glorifies God and draws others to Him (Matt. 5:16).

When others look at our life, it is more important that they see God—not us. —Poh Fang Chia

May the Word of God dwell richly

In my heart from hour to hour,

So that all may see I triumph

Only through His power. Wilkinson

Our limited ability highlights God’s limitless power.

Bible in a year: Leviticus 1-3; Matthew 24:1-28

 

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – One Real Thing

Ravi Z

A story is told about a man who made an impression on his dinner guests in such a way that the memory stayed with them for decades. The man was known to many as one of the foremost Christian ministers of the twentieth century. His dinner guests, who were of a different persuasion, did not recall striking attempts to convert them or winsome arguments for the Christian faith. They remembered this: “He carved the meat with such dignity.”(1)

Much could be said of this observation. Much could be said of a theology that can shape dinner parties, consumption, even the way one carves meat. This is perhaps particularly true for a world where the disconnect between farm and freezer is often so great that the origins, let alone the dignity, of our food is entirely unknown. I recall a former professor telling the story of serving a roasted chicken for Sunday dinner as a special treat. His young son, far more accustomed to seeing chicken in less-identifiable “nuggets” or packaging, stared with fixation at the chicken on the table, slowly coming to recognize its form—body, wing, legs—when suddenly he yelped a cry of utter disgust. “It’s a bird!” He screamed. “Gross!”

My own disconnect with food and faith is not always so far off. In one of the more memorable scenes of the classic work Supper of the Lamb, priest and gastronome Robert Farar Capon, noting such a disconnect, instructs the reader to take a moment to connect with an onion. “Seated before your onion (resisting the temptation to feel silly), you will note to begin with,” he writes, “that the onion is a thing, a being, just as you are… Together with knife, board, table, and chair, you are the constituents of a place in the highest sense of the word. This is a Session, a meeting, a society of things.”(2) Step by step Capon then leads the reader through the process of examining this confrontation, examining self and onion as fellow living things. At one point, reducing a piece of the onion to cell and skin by simply pressing the water out of it, he reflects on this “aqueous house of cards” with storied depth. “You have just now reduced it to its parts, shivered it into echoes, and pressed it to a memory, but you have also caught the hint that a thing is more than the sum of all the insubstantialities that comprise it. Hopefully, you will never again argue that the solidities of the world are mere matters of accident, creatures of air and darkness, temporary and meaningless shapes out of nothing.”(3)

There is indeed something dignified about this world of living things, about all the solidities around us, about eating and dining and breaking bread with others who share our mean estate. For the Christian, all of this dignity is understood as rising from the graciousness of God as creator and provider, and thus accordingly, the goodness of every living thing and creature God has made. This, I would argue, is the very worldview that was reflected in the way the thankful theologian served dinner all those years ago. In fact, fifteen years after dining with his guests, the man had occasion to hear about the mark he had made. His response to his impression of dignified meat carving was not one of surprise, but doxology. “Well, the animal gave its life for me!”

Nonetheless, his carving, like the remembrance of Christ in the breaking of bread, was noteworthy to his guests not because it was a covert attempt at Christian symbolism, a religious act meant to persuade in abstraction. It was noteworthy because it was as real as the meal before them. And this is precisely the sort of kingdom into which Jesus invites: a kingdom of solidities, a kingdom of dignity and sacrifice, a kingdom ready to house God’s creatures even now. As Capon concludes of thing and creature, “One real thing is closer to God than all the diagrams in the world.” Thus the dignity of God can indeed be found in meat-carving. The love of the Trinity in a gathering of friends. A taste of the creator in broken bread. The kingdom of God is not in words, Jesus said, but in power. In this world of living and dying things, his table and the invitation to join him is a real meal, a solid offering of promise.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Story told by Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

(2) Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 11.

(3) Ibid., 17.

Alistair Begg – “Come Up Here”

Alistair Begg 

Revelation 11:12

Without considering these words in their prophetic connection, let us regard them as the invitation of our great Forerunner to His sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard “a loud voice from heaven” to every believer, saying, “Come up here.” This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation.

Instead of dreading the time when we will leave this world to go to the Father, we should be longing for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be–

My heart is with Him on His throne,

And ill can brook delay;

Each moment listening for the voice,

“Rise up and come away.”

We are not called down to the grave but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet the heavenly summons should be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us, “Come up here.” We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure.

I know that strong love will make us cry,

O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,

And land us all in heaven.

But patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to live below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord’s harvest, more jewels for His crown! But how unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh, when we are fully serving God, and He is asking us to scatter precious seed and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to stay where we are. Whether our Master shall say, “Go” or “Stay,” let us be equally well pleased as long as He indulges us with His presence.

Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission.

The family reading plan for February 7, 2014 Job 6 | Romans 10

 

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The prodigal’s return

CharlesSpurgeon

“But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

Suggested Further Reading: John 3:16-21

When the light of God’s grace comes into your heart, it is something like the opening of the windows of an old cellar that has been shut up for many days. Down in that cellar, which has not been opened for many months, are all kinds of loathsome creatures, and a few sickly plants blanched by the darkness. The walls are dark and damp with the trail of slugs and snails; it is a horrid filthy place into which no one would willingly enter. You may walk there in the dark very securely, and except now and then for the touch of some slimy creature, you would not believe the place was so bad and filthy. Open those shutters, clean a pane of glass, let a little light in, and now see how a thousand noxious things have made this place their habitation. It was not the light that made this place so horrible, but it was the light that showed how horrible it was before. So let God’s grace just open a window and let the light into a man’s soul, and he will stand astonished to see at what a distance he is from God. Yes, sir, today you think yourself second to none but the Eternal; you fancy that you can approach his throne with steady step; it is but a little that you have to do to be saved; you imagine that you can accomplish it at any hour, and save yourself upon your dying bed as well as now. Ah! sir, if you could be made to be in appearance what you are in reality, then you would see that you are far enough from God even now, and so far from him that unless the arms of his grace were stretched out to bring you to himself; you must perish in your sin.

For meditation: Even the believer has sins of which he is ignorant (Psalm 19:12). God knows all about them. Thank him that he came in the person of his only-begotten Son to meet us when we were far off and to bring us back to himself (Ephesians 2:13).

Sermon no. 176

7 February (1858)